In South Carolina, even the slightest hint of snow can raise panic among adults and delight among children. A few swirling drifts of late night or early-morning snow can close schools and businesses and send the kids scurrying outside to play. The snow, when melted, can leave behind the potential for deadly road conditions leading to car accident cases. According to The American Automobile Association (AAA), a combination of snow, extreme cold, and blizzard-like winds can create dangerous driving conditions for motorists on most roads leading to black ice car accidents.
Where is Black Ice Most Likely to Form?
The prime time for the development of black ice is between sunset and sunrise when temperatures are typically at their lowest. The complexion of black ice makes it difficult to spot. The most common locations for black ice are shaded or tree-covered parts of driveways and roads and on bridges and overpasses.
Black ice, also called glare ice, is a thin coat of glazed ice on a surface. It is not black, but clear, taking on the dark coloring of the pavement below it. Because it is so thin, it is difficult to see. The only visual warning you will have is the roadway’s wet appearance.
Black ice can form in many ways, but the most common is from melting snow on or beside the road. After a winter storm, when the temperatures climb above freezing during the day, snow melts into water. Add another sharp dip in temperature later in the day or during the night, and any standing water freezes into black ice.
Safe Driving Tips for Black Ice in Columbia South Carolina
According to The Federal Highway Administration, thousands of injuries and fatalities occur every year from ice car accidents on snowy or icy roads, but many drivers are unaware of the dangers of black ice, particularly in a city such as Columbia, South Carolina.
When conditions are favorable, be on high alert. Indications of dangerous black ice conditions include:
- The absence of water spray on a seemingly wet road
- Cars begin to suddenly swerve or skid
- Brake lights come on
- Cars or tire tracks appear in roadway ditches
- Shiny surfaces appear next to a dull black berm
Driving on black ice is five times more dangerous than driving in normal conditions, and stopping takes nine times longer than normal.
AAA offers the following tips when encountering black ice while driving in South Carolina.
- Be on the lookout for black ice especially in shaded areas, infrequently traveled roads, bridges, and overpasses.
- Even if a road leading up to a bridge seems fine, use caution when crossing – slow down and remain vigilant.
- Never use cruise control in winter-like icy conditions
- Avoid unnecessary lane changes. They increase your chances of hitting an icy patch between lanes that could lead to you losing control of the car.
- Drive, turn, and brake slowly, adjusting your speed to the road conditions leaving lots of stopping room (three times more than normal). Watch for brake lights, flashers, or fishtailing.
- When approaching a patch of ice, try to brake slowly and control the skid by easing off the gas and steering in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
- If you have anti-lock brakes, put your foot down firmly on the brake, and the car will pump the brakes as you skid.
- If at all possible, slowly try to shift to a lower gear for added control.
Take your time. When traveling in poor weather conditions, allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Check the weather forecast before leaving, maintain a safe following distance between cars, be sure to familiarize yourself with the directions if traveling to an unknown destination, get plenty of rest before driving, and let others know where you will be going.
It is also important to learn what kind of brakes your vehicle uses and identify the right ways to use them, in the event your car begins to skid.
Consult with a Columbia, SC Attorney About Car Accidents Caused by Poor Weather Conditions
By making sure you are aware of the risks of driving on black ice, you can ensure you and your family are safe while traveling this winter season. But, if you or a loved one becomes a victim or are involved in a black ice car accident, seek legal advice from the car wreck attorneys at The Jeffcoat Firm in Columbia, South Carolina. You need help. That’s why our attorneys are here for your needs and to help maximize your recovery.